Progressive contact lenses for astigmatism are contact lenses for patients with presbyopia and astigmatism. They are a hybrid solution to combine the best of progressive or multifocal contact lenses with toric contacts for astigmatism.
Progressive or multifocal contact lenses are a type of special contact designed to help a patient suffering from presbyopia to see up close. These lenses use advanced technology to allow a patient to have clear vision both at distance and near, without the need for reading glasses. Most people develop presbyopia during their lifetime, and it usually begins in their mid to late 40s.
Multifocal contact lenses for astigmatism (also called toric lenses) are a specific type of multifocal lens that also correct for astigmatism.
Astigmatism is a condition in which the eye is shaped more like a football rather than a perfect sphere like a soccer ball. This is a very common type of condition that a lot of people have. However, up until recently contact lens technologies, there was not a type of soft contact lens that had both a multifocal component for clear near vision and an astigmatism component.
Thanks to recent advances in the contact lens world, patients who need a progressive/multifocal lens who also have an astigmatism now have options available to correct both!
How do toric multifocal contacts work?
Each lens brand will have its own lens technology that they incorporate into the lens. In general, however, the main concept of how the lenses work is the same.
Soft multifocal lenses usually incorporate a concentric ring design, meaning that different rings around the lens allow for different areas of clear vision. However, unlike a lined bifocal in a pair of glasses, you do not need to look into a particular area of the contact lens for the correct distance, intermediate or near vision. The concentric ring design allows your brain and eyes to adjust and select the proper part of the prescription that you need for that particular task distance.
Multifocal contacts can also adjust for astigmatism!
These lenses will also use some form of toric lens geometry to correct for the astigmatism portion of the prescription. Astigmatism prescriptions are tricky because this portion of the prescription has to align at a certain orientation in order for the vision to be clear. The lens cannot move around or rotate a lot. This lens technology allows for a stable fit and minimal lens movement.
When being fit for a multifocal toric contact lens it is important to keep in mind that the vision will likely not be perfect out of these lenses. With all multifocal lenses, there is typically some type of compromise – meaning that maybe in order to have super sharp distance vision, your near vision might not be crisp and vice versa.
These lens fittings often take a few visits to perfect and it is important that the patient keeps their expectations of the lenses realistic. The vision out of soft toric multifocals might be as good as it is with glasses or hybrid lenses, but the ability to functionally see with these lenses is something that hasn’t been available until recent technologies and this is an exciting new area of contact lens research.
Is it possible to have presbyopia and astigmatism?
Yes – it is possible to have both presbyopia and astigmatism. Astigmatism is a condition where the eye has more of a football shape rather than a perfect sphere like a basketball ball. This difference in shape causes light to focus on two separate spots on the retina, creating a blurry image.
Having an astigmatism is a very common finding – roughly ⅓ of people have some form of astigmatism! Thankfully, glasses and contacts can help correct astigmatism, so that you can see clearly and go about your life!
Presbyopia is a condition in which the eyes’ focusing system is no longer able to accommodate and focus well on near images. This is a normal part of the aging process that happens to most people in their 40s. Many people during this time need to wear reading glasses in order for them to see clearly up close. Multifocal contact lenses or bifocal glasses can correct presbyopia and serve as contacts for reading!
Since these are two very different conditions that target different parts and processes of the eyes, it is possible to have both presbyopia and astigmatism at the same time. Both progressive glasses and toric multifocal contact lenses can correct both of these conditions at the same time so a patient with both will be able to see clearly.
What are the best toric multifocal contacts?
Because the technology for multifocal astigmatism soft contact lenses is quite new, there are not a lot of options in the market currently. The best brands that are available are listed below:
The ULTRA for Astigmatism contact lenses from Bausch + Lomb feature the innovative MoistureSeal Technology enabling the lenses to maintain 95% of lens moisture for a full 16 hours, providing superior all-day comfort and consistently clear vision.
Proclear Multifocal Toric contacts are monthly disposable lenses designed uniquely for those with astigmatism and presbyopia. Proclear’s patented PC Technology ensures each lens will stay moist and comfortable all day long, while still providing you with clear vision.
How do soft bifocal contacts for astigmatism work to help you see better?
Toric multifocal contacts have a concentric ring design, meaning that different rings around the lens allow for different areas of clear vision. However, unlike a lined bifocal in a pair of glasses, you do not need to look into a particular area of the contact lens for the correct distance, intermediate or near vision. The concentric ring design allows your brain and eyes to adjust and select the proper part of the prescription that you need for that particular task distance.
These lenses will also use some form of toric lens geometry to correct for the astigmatism portion of the prescription. These revolutionary contacts allow wearers with astigmatism and presbyopia to regain perfect or near-perfect vision.
Hybrid progressive contacts for astigmatism
Hybrid lenses are a type of contact lens design that combines a soft contact lens with a hard contact lens, also known as a rigid gas permeable (RGP) lens. In theory, a hybrid lens combines the comfort of a soft lens with the sharp vision from a RGP. The hybrid design uses a soft skirt along the edge of the lens, while the hard lens sits in the central area.
Hybrid contact lenses allow for superior vision compared to soft lenses, especially for patients who have both astigmatism and presbyopia. While the vision might be better in these lenses, some patients are unable to wear them due to comfort, however. That is why it is great that recently soft lens technologies now allow for soft multifocal toric lens options, giving patients an alternative to hybrid lenses.
Do you still need to wear glasses?
In a perfect world, multifocal contacts would theoretically eliminate the need for reading glasses. However, there is typically a compromise with fitting these very special contact lenses. Sometimes a patient might still need a little extra help from reading glasses in certain conditions. This is perfectly normal.
Things like very fine print or lighting conditions that are less than ideal might warrant the use of reading glasses on top of contact lenses. Low-light settings like dimly-lit restaurants are a classic example.
How much do progressive contacts for astigmatism cost?
Because of the advanced technology and the newness of these lenses, multifocal toric lenses tend to be a bit more expensive than standard contact lenses. This means it’s super important you know the best place to buy contacts online.
They also often need to be ordered in special prescriptions or parameters, making them even more expensive. These lenses typically run around $100-$200 dollars for a 6 pack box. To compare prices and see which website has the best pricing, you can use our contacts lens price comparison page.
Can you fix presbyopia and astigmatism with surgery?
Astigmatism can be corrected with different types of refractive surgeries (LASIK, LASEK, PRK etc.) Refractive surgeries can also correct for presbyopia via multifocal intraocular lenses, but this is typically not done because clear lens extraction is not done routinely on younger patients due to risk-reward. This is more commonly performed later in life when the lens needs to be extracted during cataract surgery anyway. Speak to your eye doctor to see what they recommend.
Dr. Olivia Burger, O.D. is an optometrist who graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She is pursuing a 1-year residency at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry in Vision Science in Primary Care / Contact Lens. Her optometric areas of interest include private practice, contact lenses, and optometric service organizations such as VOSH. In her free time, she enjoys live music and is a freelance concert photographer.